OTTAWA — Helena Guergis has never been told the nature of the serious allegations that compelled the prime minister to eject her from caucus and call in the Mounties, her lawyer says.
But Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications says the party’s lawyer did tell the former status-of-women minister about the allegations last Friday.
Guergis’s lawyer Howard Rubel said that neither the RCMP nor the government has shed any light on the matter — and stood by his position after hearing the rebuttal from Harper’s office.
“Ms. Guergis looks forward to responding as soon as someone tells her what the allegations are, the serious allegations that have been turned over to the RCMP to investigate,” said Rubel, who has also represented Guergis’s husband Rahim Jaffer.
Rubel said he personally called the RCMP in Ottawa this week and offered to respond if they would reveal the nature of the allegations.
Harper referred cryptically on Wednesday to the allegations, saying they were about the former minister’s “comportment.”
In the information vacuum, speculation continued to run rampant through the corridors of Parliament Hill, including among members of Guergis’s former caucus.
CTV News reported that Harper took action against Guergis after hearing about a drug-related matter. When asked about the story, Rubel said he would not respond to “rumours” or “gossip.”
Guergis, however, said she was shocked by the CTV report.
“This is completely ridiculous and an example of rumours gone amok,” Guergis said in an email to The Canadian Press on Wednesday.
The report said a licensed investigator came across information related to the purchase and use of drugs and the potential threat of blackmail. But CTV said it was not clear to whom the allegations pertained.
Police sources told the network the investigator passed the allegations along to a Conservative lawyer, who in turn alerted Harper, prompting the PM to ask the RCMP to investigate.
“It’s like a scene out of Pink Panther,” said Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe.
NDP Leader Jack Layton asked Harper about the report during question period in the House of Commons.
“Now we learn that the prime minister referred a matter to the RCMP based on a report from Magnum P.I.,” Layton quipped.
“Tell us what the private eye told him. At least give us a hint as to why the RCMP is involved.”
Harper would not respond directly, but he also did not dispute the involvement of a private investigator.
“Of course, it is not appropriate that I would comment on any such information,” Harper said. “It is appropriate that the authorities would have that information and would look into it.”
Harper asked the Commons ethics commissioner last week to the unspecified matter, but Mary Dawson has said she is unable to proceed based on the information before her.
Jaffer, a former Tory MP, is also facing partisan allegations of improper lobbying and use of Guergis’s parliamentary resources.
The Liberals are clamouring for more information on the conversations Jaffer might have had with sitting MPs and ministers about government environmental contracts for his company Green Power Generation.
The Commons committee on government operations voted Wednesday to call Jaffer and Guergis to testify beginning April 21 about the government’s funding for renewable-energy projects, and said if they did not show a summons would be issued.
Brian Jean, parliamentary secretary to the transport minister, said earlier in the week that he had discussed the Green Infrastructure Fund with Jaffer in a meeting last June, but it was a straight exchange of information on the program and Jaffer was not lobbying.
When project proposals came across his desk some months later, he did not promote them for funding.
On Wednesday, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said Jaffer had asked him last year if he was the minister in charge of the fund, to which Prentice replied he was not.
Jaffer’s business partner Patrick Glemaud has dismissed accusations of lobbying as inaccurate. Glemaud said Jaffer had never made a penny for their company based on his Conservative connections, and has never lobbied the government.
The private investigator who spoke to the Conservative lawyer about the drug matter was looking into the affairs of two Toronto-area businessmen, CTV reported. One of them, Nazim Gillani, was a business contact of Jaffer’s.
Gillani’s spokesman Brian Kilgore said Wednesday that they knew of no private investigation, and were “as surprised as anyone” when they heard the CTV report. The Commons committee is also calling Gillani and his partner Mike Mehelic to appear, as well as Glemaud, and other government ministers.
Jaffer dined with Gillani last September and the two discussed a possible business relationship. Jaffer’s company did feasibility studies for environmental technology and renewable power generation companies, and helped companies navigate bureaucratic hurdles.
After the Gillani dinner, Jaffer was stopped for speeding and arrested north of Toronto. He subsequently pleaded guilty to careless driving, after the Crown determined it was unlikely to obtain convictions on charges of drunk driving and cocaine possession.
Gillani now faces an unrelated fraud charge. Both sides said their business talks went nowhere, and no money was ever exchanged.